Digitalis lanata (Grecian Foxglove)
|Also known as:||Woolly Foxglove|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; roadsides, open fields, woodland edges|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||1 to 4 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are in an elongating spike at the top of the plant, blooming from the bottom of the spike first. Individual flowers are about 1/3 long, creamy white with brownish veination on the tube, a wide opening at the mouth and a long creamy white lower lip that curls down. A few stamens are just inside the tube at the top of the mouth. The green sepals behind the flower are densely woolly.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are oval to lanceolate, to 6 inches long, toothless, stalkless, tapering to a finer point higher on the stem and somewhat wider with more rounded tips near the base of the plant. There are typically 3 to 5 parallel veins. Attachment is alternate. First year rosette leaves are densely woolly at the base.
Fruit is a pod covered with hooks that attach to anything that passes by, allowing it to spread far from the mother plant.
Minnesota's only known infestations of Grecian Foxglove are presently restricted to central and northern Washington county, generally within the St. Croix valley. First discovered in 2000, control measures were taken by state (MNDOT, DNR) & federal (Fish & Wildlife Service) on lands under their jurisdiction. Several private landowners pushed for it to be listed a noxious weed in Washington county and took measures to control in on their properties. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture placed a quarantine on Washington county but dropped it a number of years later when it became apparent no effective quarantine measures would be put in place. Besides its invasiveness in our native plant communities another concern regarding this species is the high levels of digitoxin that can be harmful if eaten by livestock or wildflife or when extensively handled (such as in hand pulling) by humans. According to the Native Plant Society, who was involved in the early control efforts, the long-term control plan was to allow infested sites to succeed to forest communities and shade out the pest. It didn't work. This invasive pest remains basically unchecked today.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Grecian Foxglove plants
- Grecian Foxglove roadside infestation
- Grecian Foxglove rosette
- budding Grecian Foxglove
- Grecian Foxglove infestation
Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken on county road right-of-way and private lands just west of the St. Croix river public access, just north of Stillwater in Washington county.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?